Free Stuff!

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

This Google worker is recharging so he can get back to making "free" profitable.

This Google worker is recharging so he can get back to making "free" profitable. Source: joelogon hide caption

itoggle caption Source: joelogon

Made ya look. But honestly, you don't have to go far to find free things on the web. Mail, music, news, coupons, blogs, even web design. If you're paying for almost anything, you're a sucker. (I am always horrified when I go to a news site and have to pay for an article — which is hilarious, given a) how much I pay for shoes, and b) the public radio model is just to beg for money. (Now take this moment to go pledge or something.) I do everything on the web — and I do it all for free, and mostly through Google, but also with the help of Tumblr, Weebly, Digg, and all the other various Lifehacker recommended sites. Which of course begs the question: How the heck are they making any money? (My online banking is free, too, FYI.) Someone's got to pay for those awesome Google nap pods. (I just use the floor under my desk.)

The advertising revenue model might not be the saving grace of social networks and webmail it's cracked up to be. But venture capitalists are still putting money into these things. The question is, What business model do they think will give them a return on their risk? We'll ask them today. Come out of your nap pods, people. Let's get thinkin'.



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One area where people have been willing to pay online(about a billion dollars in the US this year) is dating., a company I helped start and run for ten years, will earn about $400 million dollars in 2008. That's because the value proposition is huge when it comes to our love lives, and the fact that someone pays a fee also seems to "qualifY" them as a better date--or at least a date likely to be employed.
Trish McDermott
VP of Love,

Sent by Trish McDermott | 3:10 PM | 3-26-2008

(got error message on last submission, so sending another comment) - I think that one thing that wasn't emphasized in the discussion of free website services was the fact that website owners need to develop their site with clear goals, messages, and direction. As an Internet Marketing Consultant, I always tell my clients to first find a market they are interested in, or knowledgeable about, make sure it's not too saturated, then find the void in that industry and FILL it! I used this very model in developing my website - - I noticed there wasn't quality information about how to choose a good Chiropractic College, how to find a good Chiropractor, and how Chiropractors can decide between the myriad of products and services out there. I set out to fill this void. The site now has 70,000+ chiropractors, 100's of Chiropractic Products, and every accredited Chiropractic College - all of which have ratings and reviews to help consumers make the best decision. To generate revenue with such a site, webmasters need to use a multi-faceted campaign. We use Google Adsense, Upgraded Listing for Chiropractors in the directory, and banner ads on pages for commercial companies. By putting this burden of revenue on the commercial side of the site, you allow users to continue to have FREE access to quality information that fills a void in the market.

Sent by Noah Edvalson (Portland) | 4:09 PM | 3-26-2008

Just heard the show. Thanks!

I have a model that's social-network + free services + a gadget you can buy if you want. is for collectors and their friends. We offering helpful free online tools to anyone who wants to use them, for creating lists of stuff they have, such as books, DVDs, CDs or games, or anything else they might want to make a list of, such as a Wishlist. They can share those lists with "Groqit buddies" so their friends can know not only what they want, but what they've already got. So if you're a movie collector, your friends can now dare to buy a movie for you as a gift!

We're hoping that offering free services, along with motivation to share with friends, will spread the word and get people to appreciate us. We have an advertising budget of $0.00. And there are no ads on the site to generate any revenue that way.

The free services include helpers that fill in data such as Title and Author for a book, when someone types in a barcode or ISBN number; it can fill other information in given a Title. This can save a lot of drudgery.

The gadget part of it is a pocket-sized barcode reader that also stores lists, so they can be looked up anywhere -- say when you're in a DVD store trying to remember which DVD your sister wants, or even whether or not you already have a copy of the DVD you're looking at. The barcode reader not only helps create lists of your stuff, it also can scan that DVD and tell you whether you've got it in your DVD inventory already.

By letting anyone use the site free, we make each Groqit device potentially more valuable to its owner. If you've got a nephew who collects games and wants more, you get him to upload the list of games he's got and/or stuff he wants. You and your sister swap book lists so you can get each other surprises without fear of duplication. Each person who participates and shares with you is one more reason to have the device.

So that's the concept. We are hoping for a sort of viral effect, but this is all brand new. We'll know better if it's working once we see a couple of reviews hit the blogs.

Thanks for great shows.

Evelyn Sinclair

Sent by evelyn Sinclair | 4:24 PM | 3-26-2008

This topic is close to my heart. I've been running a blog ( over the last four years and have built up my traffic to about 700,000 pageviews a month. My revenue stream has been been based entirely on ads, but it's becoming harder and harder to pay my bills that way.

The "Freemium" approach is interesting. Because my site serves a focused audience, it's become an authority of sorts. I've spoken at conference around the world because of my blog's success. That means I probably have opportunities to build new revenue streams by offering premium services to a very small portion of my audience. It's an idea I honestly haven't considered much before, but after listing to Talk of the Nation, I think I need to put my thinking cap back on...

Sent by Justin Cone | 5:13 PM | 3-26-2008

Generating revenue from the Internet that is not just from click through and advertising is possible. We do it by offering a genuine free service to consumers that results in the capture of valuable data and information on consumer behavior.

Here's how we do it: we maintain a consumer facing web site,, which offers much needed, objective and friendly assistance to shoppers looking for the right auto, digital camera, laptop, television or cell phone. By answering opitonal and easy questions about what they prefer, consumers are able to get unbiased recommendations on products that fit their stated needs. We have a patented technology that analyzes this data in aggregate form, and we are able to deliver to brand manufacturers powerful insights into consumer preferences in these product categories.

The market inteligence we gather and deliver is our main revenue source and our clients are able to shorten product development cycles, target promotions to specific consumers, and improve their success rate.

We also offer "licensed advisors" to retailers for their web sites and in store shopping. This provides valuable assitance to their customers, and in addition to gathering powerful intelligence about the preferences of their customers, we are able to help these retailers with inventory planning and new product forecasting.

We are a four and a half year old company with several clients, powerful alliances with PC World and IDC, and strong presence on line at,, detroitrading exchange, and many other sites.

It can be done!

Sent by Jeff Pallin | 5:16 PM | 3-26-2008

Hi all,
While I was driving,I heard someone taling about some site where one can record the video messages and send it through the normal mail. I couldn't note it down . Could you please send it through my email.
Thanks in advance

Sent by unni | 10:25 AM | 3-27-2008